Published: Tue, December 05, 2017
Global Media | By Garry Long

Irish border deal reported settled as May meets Juncker

Irish border deal reported settled as May meets Juncker

According to a leak to the Irish state broadcaster RTE, the United Kingdom was willing to agree to Northern Ireland having "continued regulatory alignment" with the Republic of Ireland to ensure there was a continued soft border between the North and South.

Ahead of a crunch meeting between the Prime Minister and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker on Monday, officials have been trying to thrash out a form of words to ease the Irish government's concerns.

"We can not align the regulation of one part of the United Kingdom with the European Union", he said.

"Despite our best efforts and the significant process we and our teams have made over the past days on the remaining withdrawal issues, it was not possible to reach an agreement", EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said.

May made her entrance at European Union headquarters around the same time, smiling and courteous, as she shook hands with Juncker and both went inside the European Union headquarters for talsk. Officials said he was preparing to call round European Union leaders to get agreement on trade negotiations.

Tusk said a breakthrough had come in the talks on the Irish border, as reported to him by Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar.

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"I am surprised and disappointed that the British government now appears not to be in a position to conclude what was agreed earlier today", Varadkar said at a press conference in Dublin.

All parties initially appeared to be confident that there was an agreement to be had on citizens rights, the financial settlement and the increasingly thorny issue of the Irish border, but the bullish talk came to nothing.

Juncker described May as a "tough negotiator", and insisted that talks had not failed.

She said: "There are a couple of issues, some differences do remain which require further negotiation and consultation".

If a Brexit deal can be done that "effectively" keeps Northern Ireland in the single European market, there is "surely no good practical reason" why Scotland should not benefit from such an arrangement, the First Minister has said. But then Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party, which props up May's minority government, announced it wouldn't support any deal that made special rules for Northern Ireland. "We have common understanding on most issues". A British spokesman said: "With plenty of discussions still to go, Monday will be an important staging post on the road to the crucial December Council".

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